Cypress Hill – “Back in Black” review

This is the 10th full-length album from South Gate’s very own Cypress Hill. Consisting of B-Real & Sen Dog on the mic as well as DJ Muggs on the boards & Eric Bobo on percussion, the quarter would take the west coast by storm a little over 3 decades back off their eponymous full-length debut with Muggs’ unique production style & their pro-marijuana legalization themes. Other standouts in the group’s discography include Black Sunday, my personal favorite Cypress Hill III: Temples of Boom, the criminally underappreciated Cypress Hill IV & even their last one Elephants on Acid. But with the 4 year anniversary of the latter coming up in the fall & since DJ Muggs has been busy fully producing projects for other people ranging from Rome Streetz to more recently Rigz, they’re bringing in Detroit veteran Black Milk to produce Back in Black.

“Takeover” is an energetic opener talking about the return of the group on top of a cloudy boom bap instrumental whereas “Open Ya Mind” goes into a funkier direction celebrating weed being legal in their home-state. Demrick comes into the picture for the groovy “Certified” rightfully bragging about their legacies just before the Dizzy Wright-assisted “Bye Bye” pensively details the warzone that is the hood & the drums are so goddamn dusty.

Meanwhile on “Come with Me”, we have Cypress Hill coming through with a decent homage to the iconic Outlawz joint “Hail Mary” leading into “The Original” taking a funky boom bap route to talk about being OGs in this shit. “Hit ‘Em” finds B-Real & Sen Dog on top of some hi-hats to get anthemic while the song “Break of Dawn” works in a guitar talking about never stopping. The penultimate track “Champion Sound” mixes some elements of trip hop & digital dancehall to declare themselves champs, but then “The Ride” ends the album by jumping on top of a vibraphone & some bongos to tell the story of a crack dealer.

Now for all the fans who weren’t really fucking with Rise Up, then you’re gonna like Back in Black a lot more. In fact, I think it’s one of the best albums that Cypress has put together yet. After all the experimenting that they did on Elephants on Acid, they manage to get one of Detroit’s greatest producers to take them back to their roots & succeeding.

Score: 4/5

DJ Muggs – “Winter 2” review

DJ Muggs is a 53 year old producer & DJ from Queens, New York who came up as part of The 7A3 alongside the Bouldin Brothers in the late 80s. The trio only put out 1 album together but as the 90s approached, Muggs started to become a household name in the west coast as the producer for Cypress Hill & the leader of the Soul Assassins. He would go on to release 4 solo efforts & after dominating 2021 by fully producing projects like Death & the Magician or Cartagena, Muggs is returning for a Winter sequel given that the 1-year anniversary of that album is coming up next month.

After the “Winter 2 Theme” intro, the first song “Beaming Hi” by RLX is a symphonic opener spitting the fly lifestyle he’s living these days whereas “Absolem Reprise” by Roc Marciano takes a dusty boom bap route talking about being prone to kill it. “All White Party” by Meyhem Lauren fuses together some keyboards & punchy drums spitting that they gotta kill him to take his spot leading into RLX returning for the jazzy yet drumless “Have a Bad Day” hoping that on those who get in his face.

Meanwhile on “L.A. County”, we have T.F. coming into the picture ominously detailing his life as a Crip just before “Panoramic Sunroof” by Crimeapple keeps the boom bap vibes going detailing his mind moving as fast as the drugs he’s pushing. “God Killa” by Rigz has a bit of an Italian flare to the instrumental talking about killing motherfuckers’ egos, but then “Father Time” by Ill Bill takes a dark electronic approach expressing his desire to chop bodies up.

“More Fire” by Hologram weaves in some heavenly vocals throughout saying you can’t ruin his game while the vibraphone-heavy “Absolem Reprise, Pt. 2” by Roc Marciano perfectly picks up right where the predecessor left off lyrically. The final song “It’s Over” by RLX mixes a guitar & an organ talking about the title he earned from his gusto, but “Winter Black Ice” finishes the album off with an instrumental piece similar to the intro.

Overall, I think this is a worthy sequel to round out such a prolific year in Muggs’ career. I like how he gives a couple of the guest MCs more shine rather than just giving them 1 joint each as well as the diversity of sound throughout.

Score: 3.5/5

DJ Muggs – “Dies Occidendum” review

This is a brand new collection of beats from Queens-born albeit California based producer, deejay & audio engineer DJ Muggs. Coming up as 1/3 of The 7A3 alongside the Bouldin brothers in the late 80s, it would later go to become a household name in the west coast as the producer for Cypress Hill & the leader of the Soul Assassins collective. The Black Goat also has 3 solo albums under his belt, the latest being Winter just 3 months ago. However after lacing Rome Streetz’ latest album Death & the Magician to universal acclaim just a couple weeks ago, Muggs is continuing to stay busy by dropping Dies Occidendum.

The opener “Incantation” pretty much sets the tone for the album as it has an eerie, cavernous tone to it while the next track “The Chosen One” goes into a more trap/witch house direction & I really just can’t get enough of how evil the atmosphere of it is. “Nigrum Mortem” has a more distorted tone as it incorporates the sound of organs & guitars while the “Liber Null” instrumental feels like a wild rollercoaster with it’s multiple switch-ups throughout it’s 4 minute run. “Alphabet of Desire” has a more melancholic vibe in comparison to the previous cuts while the “Subconscious” instrumental goes into an industrial direction with hi-hats firing off like a minigun.

“Veni Vidi Amavi” is easily the most chilled out track of the bunch with it’s smokey atmosphere while the “Anointed” instrumental goes back into that trap sound except it contains these ghostly shrills throughout. The penultimate track “Anicca” starts with some dramatic string melodies, but then things get quiet for about 30 seconds until the bass & hi-hats hit & then the closer “Transmogrification” is dominated by cricket noises for a good bulk of it’s 5-minute runtime with the exception of some mystical-like harmonies during the first minute as well as the sounds of something burning during the last minute & a half.

I know we’re not even finished with the first quarter of 2021, but goddamn is Muggs on a roll right now. Death & the Magician is still very much my album of the year so far, but these are some of the darkest collection of sounds he’s put together in a while & is highly recommended to any Cypress Hill fan.

Score: 4/5

DJ Muggs – “Winter” review

DJ Muggs is a 52 year old producer & DJ from Queens, New York who came up as part of The 7A3 alongside the Bouldin Brothers in the late 80s. The trio only put out 1 album together but as the 90s approached, Muggs started to become a household name in the west coast as the producer for Cypress Hill & the leader of the Soul Assassins. He would go on to release 2 solo albums & with the 8 year anniversary of his previous one Bass for Your Face approaches next month, Muggs is finally delivering a follow-up.

After the “Winter is Here” intro, the first song “Warning Shots” by Boldy James talks about swimming or sinking over a creepy-sounding beat whereas the next track “Olympic Stamps” by Cappadonna talks about how his crew rolls thick comes together over a rowdy instrumental. The song “Japanese Space Program” by RLX talks about wanting all the riches over an operatic beat while the track “Food on My Fork” by Rome Streetz shouts out those who think they can go toe-to-toe with him over a rock-flavored instrumental.

The song “Veneno” by Crimeapple, Eto & Meyhem Lauren sees the 3 talking about that fly shit over a minimalist beat while the penultimate track “Resume” by Hologram talks about how they wanted him dead 10 years ago over a sinister instrumental. The closer “Roll the Credits” by al.divino talks about how listeners already know what the deal is over a cinematic beat whereas the bonus cut “Winter’s Theme in DM” is an instrumental piece that you can just sit back & smoke a bowl to.

As a whole, this album is solid & I would absolutely recommend it if anyone loves Muggs as I do. He could’ve added a few more joints & stretch it out longer than just 25 minutes, but his production is still very much top notch all these decades later & the guest MCs he brings on board come correct for the most part.

Score: 3.5/5

Cypress Hill – “Elephants on Acid” review

Cypress Hill is a legendary West Coast hip hop group consisting of MCs B-Real & Sen Dog alongside producer DJ Muggs & percussionist Eric Bobo. Their first 3 albums are widely considered to hip hop classics, but their material since then has been considered average. However, they are returning with their 9th full-length album after an 8 year hiatus.

After the Tusko intro, we go into the first song “Band of Gypsies”. Here, B-Real & Sen are spirting battle bars over a psychedelic beat. The track “Put ‘Em in the Ground” gets murderous over an eerie vocal sample & after the “Satao” interlude, we go into the song “Jesus Was a Stoner”. Here, B-Real makes many references to weed & religion over an instrumental with a haunting atmosphere.

The song “Pass the Knife” returns to the murder bars over an eerie beat & after the “LSD” interlude, we go into the song “Oh Na Na”. Here, B-Real of course talks about getting high over some infectious horns. After the “Holy Mountain” interlude, we go into the song “Locos”. Here, B-Real & Sen deliver street bars over a gritty beat.

The track “Falling Down” confrontationally talks about life over a distorted bass line & after the “Elephant Acid” interlude, the song “Insane OG” pretty much speaks for itself over a apocalyptic beat. However, I wish it was longer than just 84 seconds. “The 5th Angel” is an instrumental interlude that sounds like it could be playing in a trailer for an upcoming horror movie while the track “Warlord” talks about judgement day over a fitting boom bap beat.

The song “Reefer Man” is a sequel to “Dr. Greenthumb” with a tuba-inflicted boom bap beat & after the “Thru the Rabbit Hole” interlude, we go into the song “Crazy”. Here, B-Real & Sen talk about insanity over a trippy beat. The track “Muggs is Dead” is a psychedelic instrumental interlude while the penultimate track “Blood on My Hands” sees B-Real comparing himself to the Grim Reaper over an ominous beat. The closer “Stairway to Heaven” sees B-Real talking about his prediction of the afterlife over a prominent woodwind sample.

From front to back, this was a strong return to form for Cypress. Sure there are WAY too many interludes, but DJ Muggs’ production is just as gritty as the old days & it’s a bit more experimental too. The lyricism is sharper as well. If you wanna hear a fantastic comeback album from one of the greatest West Coast groups ever, PLEASE give this a listen.

Score: 4/5